According to three ethanol-industry sources and shipping data, a rare U.S. ethanol shipment will arrive in China very soon. Reuters says that may be the first ethanol shipment to hit China since the two countries struck a trade deal earlier this year.
China recently waived some additional tariffs on almost 700 American products, including ethanol, to support more purchases of U.S. farm goods to help meet its obligations in the Phase One trade deal. Since China made the move, the ethanol industry has been watching for signs of renewed trade in the biofuel. Tariffs on U.S. fuel ethanol were as high as 70 percent after Beijing upped some retaliatory tariffs on U.S. imports in the back-and-forth trade dispute with Washington, D.C.
A slump in fuel demand brought on by COVID-19 led to an oversupply of ethanol that caused prices to bottom out, forcing producers to slash their production amounts. One of the three sources to tell Reuters about the shipment says the vessel was carrying ethanol that originated in the United States and had been resold to China, likely from a seller in Saudi Arabia. A trader based in China tells Reuters that, “People are looking to import fuel ethanol from overseas as prices in northeastern China have risen in the past few days.”